Intimate partner violence screening programs in the Veterans Health Administration: Informing scale-up of successful practices

J Gen Intern Med

Objectives: Screening women for intimate partner violence (IPV) is increasingly expected in primary care, consistent with clinical prevention guidelines (e.g., United States Preventive Services Task Force). Yet, little is known about real-world implementation of clinical practices or contextual factors impacting IPV screening program success. This study identified successful clinical practices, and barriers to and facilitators of IPV screening program implementation in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Design: Descriptive, qualitative study of a purposeful sample of 11 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) categorized as early and late adopters of IPV screening programs within women's health primary care clinics. VAMCs were categorized based on performance measures collected by VHA operations partners. Participants: Thirty-two administrators and clinician key informants (e.g., Women's Health Medical Directors, IPV Coordinators, and physicians) involved in IPV screening program implementation decisions from six early- and five late-adopting sites nationwide. Main Measures: Participants reported on IPV screening and response practices, and contextual factors impacting implementation, in individual 1-h semi-structured phone interviews. Transcripts were analyzed using rapid content analysis with key practices and issues synthesized in profile summaries. Themes were identified and iteratively revised, utilizing matrices to compare content across early- and late-adopting sites. Key Results: Five successful clinical practices were identified (use of two specific screening tools for primary IPV screening and secondary risk assessment, multilevel resource provision and community partnerships, co-location of mental health/social work, and patient-centered documentation). Multilevel barriers (time/resource constraints, competing priorities and mounting responsibilities in primary care, lack of policy, inadequate training, and discomfort addressing IPV) and facilitators (engaged IPV champions, internal and external supports, positive feedback regarding IPV screening practices, and current, national attention to violence against women) were identified. Conclusions: Findings advance national efforts by highlighting successful clinical practices for IPV screening programs and informing strategies useful for enhancing their implementation within and beyond the VHA, ultimately improving services and women's health.

Iverson KM, Adjognon O, Grillo AR, et al. Intimate partner violence screening programs in the veterans health administration: informing scale-up of successful practices. J Gen Intern Med. 2019. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 31420827. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-019-05240-y.

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Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Screening Research: